Saturday, January 31, 2009

Alert: Google Penalty Under Way for Floral Related Websites IF….

If you have a link on your website that links OUT to the following URL with your web-address included in the middle portion:

Your website is at very high risk of experiencing a Google penalty. A number of sites have experienced a penalty in the last 5 days.

Solution: Remove the link from your website immediately. 

Reason: Google has identified the network associated with the root as spam. By linking out to you are identifying your website as part of the bad neighborhood.

NOTICE: Many Eflorist and FTDFLORISTONLINE websites appear to be involved due to individual websites owners seeking optimization assistance from the Search Engine Firm associated with (link goes to the whois data base regarding who owns

Update-2: Perform a site command in Google to view more florists than what is listed below by clicking here 

Update-1: The following are just a few of the flower shops I found that are at high risk of incurring a Google penalty:

Alice's Flower Shop
Bethel Connecticut Florist

Chandler's Flowers
Durham North Carolina Florist

Expressions Florist
Placentia California Florist

Fletchers Flowers
Latham NY Florist

Floral Fantasies
Dallas Florist

Flower Kingdom
Phoenix Arizona Florist

Flowers by Lady Di
Alliston Ontario Florist

Inland Flowers
San Bernardino California Florist

Mills the Florist 
Mills the Florist in Palo Alto California

Orginally Yours
Saginaw Michigan Florist

Presidential Flowers 
Philadelphia Pennsylvania Florist for Philadelphia PA flowers

Quinn's Blooms & Greenery
Cobourg Ontario Florist

The Gateway Florist
Annapolis Maryland Florist

Towers Flowers
Long Island NY Florist

Suspended In Time
Flower Preservation Services

The Hidden Garden Floral Designs

Dogwood Tree
Raleigh’s premier event design

English Garden Raleigh

Always In Bloom
Wilmington North Carolina Florist

Anthurium Gardens Florist
Miami Florist

B&B Florist
Chandler Arizona Florist

B.c.B's Flowers & More
Dover, DE florist shop and fresh flower arrangements

Blooming Scents
Serving Ottawa

Hearts and Flowers
Charlottetown Flower Shop

Suzan M Flora's
San Diego California Florist

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Teleflora SEO Laced News Release for


A couple of weeks ago I was a little hard on Teleflora regarding an SEO news release that was masked under an announcement of their up coming Super Bowl commercial.  Thereat, I blogged that while Teleflora had every opportunity to optimize the news release to influence the rankings of both and their local florist directory, that Teleflora chose only to optimize it for Teleflora. Thus, the reference that they made in the news piece to was apart of the masking process as their SEO did not pass any ranking influences to

Fast forward to today, and low and behold we have an SEO laced new release focused on influencing the ranking of for the keyword “flowers.” This marks the first effort where a wire-service has actually made movement toward offsite SEO for their member’s directory.

The actual news release can be found by clicking here.

Two words come to mind: "I'm impressed!" 

If only FTD would do the same for

Update 01/28/09: MSNBC is now picking up the release. Lot's of link juice being passed. 

Monday, January 26, 2009

Are Web Designers & SEOs One IN the Same? recently posted and article on the top “Five Careers That Sail Through a Tough Economy.” Topping that list is “Web Designer.” According to the article:

“As companies look for ways to cut overhead costs, demand for Web design grows. The Internet has evolved from an information resource into a robust economic platform. Companies take advantage of low-overhead Internet storefronts to tap new markets worldwide as they market and sell their products online. They need a compelling Web presence to reel in customers -- and that's where you come in.”

[emphasis in red font is mine]

A common public misconception is that “website design” and “SEO” are one IN the same when they are not. No disrespect to “web designers,” but most web designers do not understand how the conceptual model of the web works nor do they care (at least, that has been my experience in working with web designers). That’s why companies like FTD, 1800flowers, and Proflowers, hire SEOs independent of their web designers.

In my opinion, MSN is wrong to list “web designer” in their report when clearly they are meaning an “SEO.” A “web designer” is usually just that, a “web designer.” An SEO however, is focused on strengthening their client’s web presence through various strategies that have little or nothing to do with design.

Of course, having both work together is ideal, but that’s not what we are talking about here.

What say you? Did MSN make a mistake in correlating a “web designer” with an “SEO”?

If so, who is now #1??

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Reminder on Claiming Local Google Listings

If you haven’t yet claimed your free local Google listing, you better get it done as your unclaimed listing is at risk of being hijacked by a competitor.

Order Gatherers, that goes for you too. The following major players have listings unclaimed:

FTD.Com: Florist Downers Grove, IL

1800flowers: Florist Carle Place, NY

Proflowers: Proflowers San Diego, Ca   

Justflowers: Florist, LA, Ca

And my favorite plagiarist, Wesley Berry Flowers: Florist West Bloomfield, MI

Takes less than 2 minutes to claim it.

Paid Link Shift for Valentine's Day

Of interest, I’m noticing a shift in the way and are mounting their link-vote campaigns for this coming holiday, Valentine’s Day. For those who have been following me for the last three or four months, we’ve seen these two floral entities involved in traditional old school methods of placing link-votes in the sidebar areas of blogs and other web properties in an effort to influence Google’s algorithm. But this holiday things are different as the two floral entities appear to be following the stealthy ways of by placing link-votes directly in content areas.

[You can follow me on Twitter off to the right of your screen where I’ll often tweet about link-votes as I come across them.]

While Google still considers this practice to be outside of their guidelines because it is artificial at the core, it doesn’t compromise the integrity of Google’s algorithm to the same level as paid sidebar link-votes due to relevant context. In that regard, it’s kind of like seeing a Coke sign during a movie scene verses an actual commercial: the Coke sign is always somehow a part of the context. Hence, it just *may* be that Google is less critical of contextual link-vote placement.

Having said all that, Proflowers is still active in old school methods as in the last few days I’ve noticed a lot of new sidebar link-votes go up for “florist” around the web. Proflowers behavioral pattern has always been more brazen than the other floral entities which may ultimately trigger their SEO demise once (or if) Google starts watching them more closely.

In my opinion, creative link-votes in 2009 are going to be key for long term success. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Detecting New "Googlebombs"

Today Matt Cutts posted on the Google Public Policy blog the following note related to Google Bombing: 

Detecting new "Googlebombs"

Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 7:28 PM

Though the spirit of change may be in the air in Washington, some things apparently stay the same. Yes, the old online prank called "Googlebombing" returned for a brief while recently, when Google searches for the words words [failure] and [cheerful achievement] returned President Obama's biography as the top result. 

You may remember this issue from a few years ago, when the query [miserable failure] led to the biography of President Bush. For some reason, all those links pointing to the Bush bio were redirected to Obama's. Some people have asked in the past whether these results are a sign of political bias on Google's part, and we've explained that this isn't the case. 

Rather than edit these prank results by hand, we developed an algorithm a few years ago to detect Googlebombs. We tend not to run it all the time, because it takes some computing power to process our entire web index and because true Googlebombs are quite rare (we joke around the Googleplex that more articles have been written about Googlebombs than there are actual examples of Googlebombs).

After we become aware of this latest Googlebomb, we re-ran our algorithm and it detected the Googlebomb for [cheerful achievement] as well as for [failure]. As a result, those search queries now return discussion about the Googlebombs rather than the original pages that were returned.

Be sure check out search engine analyst Danny Sullivan's post from yesterday. He does a great job explaining the history behind this and how it all works.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Proflowers: "Just Say No to Red Roses"

Today Proflowers put out an odd press release stating:
"ProFlowers is urging women to take a stand and Just Say No" to red roses on Valentine's Day. Instead, ProFlowers will offer dozens of mixed bouquets, stylish "shortie" bouquets, multicolored Passion Premium Roses, and even flowers for men on Valentine's Day! And, for those who are slow to accept change, don't worry, ProFlowers will still continue to sell red roses."
According to the article, "Research Finds 76% of Women Do Not Want Red Roses on Valentine's Day." The full press release can be found here.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Local Search Title-Line Revisited

A few days ago I blogged that the title-line in local search can be manipulated for marketing purposes.

After blogging about that a couple of my colleagues expressed concern that it wasn’t a good idea and one of them pointed me to the following discussion between Google Map Guide Joel and a person asking a question related to the title-line of local search:

This is an interesting case of spam - I'm glad you both posted here.

I've linked the quality guidelines below. Those listings that don't follow these guidelines are subject to removal. I wanted to highlight two points:
1. "Represent your business exactly as it appears in real life. The name on Google Maps should match the business name, as should the address, phone number and website."

Interestingly, the title LV Photo Party Las Vegas Photo Booth Rental, in my view, is committing what we call title spam or keyword stuffing. The business name doesn't match the name provided on the website.

Quoting from the guidelines again:

2. "Google Maps is intended to be a source of information for users and business owners alike."

The ShutterBox Photo Booth listings appear to have their business appropriately named. It is strange, however, that the address information isn't on the website. The addresses on listings should be useful to customers. If I were a customer, I'd expect to be able to drive up and get service from ShutterBox Photo Booth in both the locations in Las Vegas as well as the locations in Chicago.

Each of you have an opportunity to clean up the listings as necessary. I'll check back on these listings in a few days. Please make sure they follow our lisitng guidelines.


I no longer recommend local search title-line marketing.

Search Engine Bomb set to fade away…

The famous “miserable failure” Google bomb that was defused by Google administration a few years back is set to disappear from Yahoo at any moment as the page has been removed. A strange oddity, Yahoo’s automated algorithm is tiering Barack Obama’s page for the same term:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Proflowers Conversion Rate for December

Like November, Proflowers leads the entire ecommerce world on conversion rates.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Marketing in the Google Local Listing Tag

01/21/09 notice: I no longer recommend marketing in the title-line of local listings as discussed below.

Last month I ran a piece on “Claim Your Google Map Listing” by the SEO for, Jordan Glogau. In that post, Jordan stressed how important it is for local florists to claim their local Google listing before an unethical competitor hijacks it for their own gain.

What follows here assumes the reader has already secured his/her listing and wants to market within the listing itself....

As many florists know, it is not uncommon to see major floral entities market product price points directly in Google’s search results by way of a Google Adwords campaign like we see here:

In an effort to stay competitive with that type of price point marketing I’ve recommended in the past that local florists should use a small key portion of their title tag title area to visually capture the same audience:

But did you know that you can also market a price point in the local listing title area? Indeed you can…

A carefully crafted tag line can not only put a competitive price point directly in the search result page, but it also makes your listing stand out as different from the rest and is likely to draw potential customers in your direction.  

Combine on all tag line marketing efforts, and you will dominate your local area search.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Proflowers Conversion Rates Explained??

In an article posted today on, the author touches on a question I asked a few days ago related to the high conversion rates over at

While the article’s focus is on the fact that “people are psychologically conditioned to ignore most ads,” Proflowers has learned to get around that barrier by not advertising in an interruptive manner. Rather, they advertise contextually and use stories that people can identify with. 

Here is an excerpt of the piece:

Telling Authentic Stories with Your Ads

In December 2008, had one of the highest conversion rates in the ecommerce business, transforming 31.1 percent of all site visitors into paying customers, according to The Nielsen Company's MegaView Online Retail study. So what is their secret? I believe that ProFlowers is so successful because its ads, particularly radio ads, tell such authentic or real stories.

If you have ever listened to talk radio, you've probably heard a talk show host endorse ProFlowers. Invariably, the host tells listeners about his experience using ProFlowers. He speaks of how fresh the flowers were and of how fast they arrived. To the listeners—who are fully aware that the host is being paid—the story about ProFlowers is less of an ad and more of a recommendation from a trusted friend. Any campaign that takes this tact, telling real stories about an ecommerce company's products and services is—I believe—welcomed by consumers. Tactics that tell these stories include:

  • Endorsements. If you can afford to have a radio host endorse your store, you will see a boost in sales.
  • Blogs. Telling your company's story becomes a form of word-of-mouth marketing that will reach an audience that would sleep through a slick television ad.
  • Buzz or promotional marketing. Consider offering free and exclusive discounts that spread by word-of-mouth.
  • Print advertising that is based on a worldview, not a product. Print advertising can still be very effective, especially if the ad fits the context of the publication and adds to the publication's theme or ethos.

Summing Up

Interruption advertising is a fading tactic that is no longer as effective as it once was. But there are still lots of advertising tactics that will help ecommerce sites increase web traffic.

Full article can be read by clicking here

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Teleflora Job Cuts

A news release on job cuts over at Teleflora was posted yesterday on

Teleflora cuts jobs

Local management refuses to comment

By Carol Haynes/Daily Press
Published: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 12:12 PM CST
Although Paragould Teleflora human resource manager Hal Wyatt had no comment, the Daily Press learned Tuesday morning that some employees were terminated.

In a statement released from Teleflora president Shawn Weidmann in Los Angeles, said, “Teleflora reduced a select number of positions across all business units to align costs with current and long term business priorities.

“As a long-time employer in Paragould, Teleflora remains committed to sound business practices and providing the local community with continued employment opportunities.”

Weidmann said because Teleflora is a “privately held company,” the number of jobs cut Monday would not be released, nor the number of current employees.

Some employees who lost jobs were unwilling to make comments, and others did not return calls when contacted by the Daily Press.

However, Larry Gibbs, who lost his job as a hardware technician, said the Press he holds “no ill will.”

“Business is not good, and it affects us like everyone in town ... We are at the mercy of the market as well,” he said. “I understand the economic situation, he said. “If work is not there, we can’t keep a workforce in place.”

He opted not to comment on severance packages or other options that may have been offered terminated employees by the company.

Gibbs said while he had no official warning of job cuts, he had suspicions “something was coming for awhile.”

Anyone who watches the news, or follows the economy understands the possibility of cut jobs, he said.

“It happens,” he said. “I’ve never allowed myself to be defined by my job ... My job is what enables my life.

“My family is life.”

In a press release Tuesday, Teleflora announced it will premiere a commercial in conjunction with Super Bowl XLIII, scheduled to air on NBC on Feb. 1.

According to the press releases, “This marks the first time in the company’s 75-year history that it will advertise during one of the world’s most watched and celebrated sporting events. Teleflora’s 30-second spot will air during the game’s second quarter.”

Reuters news service reports a 30-second commercial spot during the game will cost $3 million.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Valentine's Day Flower Delivery and Service Charges

I bounced around a few of the major floral players today in an effort to know how much they will be charging beyond the product amount on Valentine’s Day orders. In that regard, will have the highest additional charge for flower delivery on Valentine’s Day.

Proflowers Shipping Charges:

Product & Accessory Price

Saturday Valentine’s Day Delivery


$0.00 - $45.00



$45.01 - $60.00



$60.01 - $70.00



$70.01 and up


The reason will have the highest charge is because Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday and FEDEX weekend rates will apply. will also be limited by FEDEX in what areas can have delivery as FEDEX doesn’t service many of the areas they service during the week.

As for the other floral entities, this is what they will be charging….

FTD.Com Service Charge: $14.99 Service Charge: $13.99 Service Charge: $13.99

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Teleflora & Super Bowl XLIII

In conjunction with Teleflora’s recent announcement that it will premiere a commercial during Super Bowl XLIII to boost public awareness of local Teleflora member florists, Teleflora today released an SEO laced news release focused on influencing Google’s algorithm to favor for searches on “flowers” and “florists” and other floral search phrases.

According to the release, the intent of the commercial is:

"Our main priority has always been to support our member florists [hyperlink to removed] and during these hard economic times, Teleflora wants to help our members generate sales and foot traffic into their shops," said Shawn Weidmann, President, Teleflora. "The opportunity to reach 90 million potential buyers less than two weeks before Valentine's Day - one of the largest flower [hyperlink to removed] buying holidays - is something that couldn't be passed up."

However, when looking beneath the words of the release through an SEO lens, it is discovered that the intent here is to rank for popular search phrases and not their local florist directory

One would think that if Teleflora was really serious about generating public awareness for local florist members, they would also want to help rank their local florist directory for popular search queries. Instead, we see Teleflora only interested in ranking

Note: In the image above the red areas are where cast link-votes toward their website in an effort to rank in Google for those words.  

Actual news release can be found at:

Think Like A "Black Hat" by Matt Cutts

Monday, January 12, 2009

More Title-Tag adjustments for Valentine's Day

Following the lead of Proflowers.Com, uploaded their new homepage title & meta tags today to reflect Valentine's Day searches on flowers.  

The adjustment in tags worked to move FTD into the 7th position (up from 10th). At present, there doesn't appear to be a link-vote campaign in place so I don't think they will advance into the top 5 (but that could change).

Also, Google's algorithm for "Valentines flowers" searches has picked up on the general interest of Valentine's Day. Yesterday Google began showing its own "Shopping results" in the middle of the main results which will make ranking in the top 3 imperative.

At present, Proflowers & 1800flowers have the monopoly on the upper primary real estate.

Time will tell if these two major players can continue to dominate "Valentines flowers" searches. 

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Valentines flowers" Tiering

Proflowers changed their homepage title-tag today to reflect Valentine’s Day and also added on-page text. 

As result, Google’s algorithmic automation picked up on the change and tiered their homepage to a secondary result below their Valentine’s page for “Valentines flowers” searches. A similar circumstance happened with 1800flowers a few days ago which means the two floral entities now occupying a good percentage of primary searchable real estate.

From an SEO point of view, this is exactly what you want as it pushes the competition down and gives double exposure.

Is using paid text links too?

Staying on topic with my recent post on Proflowers and paid links......

Hot off the press today from is an analysis that is either involved in paid link schemes or a competitor is making it look like Dell is involved. 

The article can be read here: Is Dell Buying Text links? 

I tend to believe the former scenario than the latter.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Paid Text Links & the #1 Online Retailer on Conversion Rates

In a recent article by Mark Jackson of Search Engine Watch, the author expressed his frustration with Google on its lack of policy enforcement as it pertains to “paid links.” Jackson explains how hard it is to convey to clients why “paid links” aren’t a good idea all the while knowing that they work. In his own words:

“I want to scream to the spam police at the major search engines. If you want us to operate in an ‘ethical’ manner, show us that you're penalizing the Web sites that abuse your guidelines! Not just one here and another there. That doesn't get our attention.” (See reference)

I can think of no better example for Google to make a statement than with the #1 online retailer on conversion rates: As is common knowledge among many SEOs, has been actively engaged in influencing Google’s algorithm through the use of “paid links” for several years now and is quite brazen about it.

I started writing about paid text links in the floral industry over a year ago and more recently here on Florist SEO Watch. The article I wrote over a year ago actually ranks in the top 10 results for the search phrase “paid text links” and directly covers I sure find it hard to believe that a member of Google’s spam brigade has never read it given its exposure. 

Here’s my take on paid text links: Google’s policy may state that buying text links is outside of its acceptable guidelines, but the level of tolerance is by fact unknown. When I look at the link campaign for I am utterly floored by the excessive amount of paid text links that I see. To me, when I compare their efforts to others of the same caliber, stands out as a heavy link buyer. Is Google clueless to all this? I don’t think so.

It has been said by other SEOs that Google is more lenient & tolerant toward large company violations, but if that is true then Mark Jacksons’ “scream” falls on deaf ears and will continue to. Penalizing smaller companies is not a sign that Google is serious. In fact, giving larger companies diplomatic immunity sends a confusing message to smaller businesses who often try to copy larger businesses for success.